Reading aloud to children is a wonderful gift and also a crucial part of their learning and development. When reading aloud, it is important to let children listen (without the expectation that they should take a turn to read) and absorb the literature—the story, characters, setting, rich language, humor, adventure…. It is a time to bond and entertain, yet also a time to build vocabulary, expand background knowledge, and hopefully nurture a love for all that books can provide. My advice for reading aloud to a child who might be struggling to read is to read books on par with comprehension level rather than reading level. Protect your read-aloud time with your children.
Wordless picture books:
These help build language and reading comprehension skills. Read a wordless picture book and tell the story together. Notice the illustrations, the details. Your child can predict, infer, conclude as you read.
To practice fluency:
Help your child choose a passage from a book that is at a comfortable reading level (easy to decode). It can be a book already read. Choose a passage containing words that include previously learned sounds as well as non-phonetic words that your child reads automatically. Read the passage three times. Your child will see the improvement. Some children enjoy being timed for these readings—they like the element of competition as they try to become more fluent with each reading. It is important to stress that accuracy matters…try to read the passage with two or fewer errors.
For struggling readers, it is important that they are given reading material that includes words with sounds previously taught. If a child is struggling to read a word because the sound/concept has not been taught, read the word for your child. If your child struggles with a word containing sounds that have been taught, try writing the word in larger print on a whiteboard or paper. It is easier to read a confusing word if it is isolated and in larger print. A child can better focus on the word.
Make a list of 5-10 words that include a sound newly introduced in school or a sound that needs more practice (short vowel, consonant blend, ending sound, silent e, etc.). Ask your child to highlight the sound, say it out loud, and then read the word. This makes the task multisensory …and kids love using highlighters!